TV Devolution

I’m starting to think the doomsayers are right – perhaps the end is nigh.

A chance flicking around the tube this past weekend landed me onto the mind-blowingly ridiculous NBC’s Dateline: “The Perils of Parenting”.

Dateline in itself is usually good for a laugh as they regularly show a feature called: “What Would You Do?” This is a reverse version of Just for Laughs gags. People are put into awkward and uncomfortable social situations and we watch their reactions from hidden cameras.

All the prank, without the wacky payoff!

“The Perils of Parenting” continues this vein of lazy journalism, but this time uses kids.

That’s right: television has hit a huge low.

I know, I’m surprising myself with those words.

That dozens of executives decided it was perfectly kosher to put children on hidden cameras and put them through uncomfortable / terrible situations is both mind-boggling and telling. That time of Bread and Circuses is just around the corner, my friends.

The show started out pretty tame, as we watched how kids dealt with issues of bullying. But then the next scene turned a weird dark corner. The question in particular was about testing the limits of kids’ “stranger danger” meters.

The parents of the target children would watch from the hidden surveillance van as the producers sent in their actor to knock on the door and see if the kids would answer, or even let the “stranger” in.

My neck was near cramping from all the shaking my head was doing. It was one thing to watch these kids get put into frighteningly real situations, but then to watch the parents wag their fingers in the kids’ confused, teary-eyed faces was pretty overboard.

I joke on stage about having kids as your own little social experiments, but actually going through with something like that? Yowza.

Ambushing your children with actors and hidden cameras isn’t going to teach them any lessons. All it’s really going to do is guarantee one big sack of resentment, a huge teenage rebellious streak, and maybe an Oprah book deal.

“My Parents put me on Dateline, and all I got was this Lousy Psychosis.”

Maybe the next big watershed business will be post-traumatic stress therapy for teens.

It sure seems like it’s going that way. Now the perils of American youth have expanded to a fear of constant surveillance, which may or may not include being waylaid by primetime television.

I feel a great relief that we’ve got a good distance between us and the mainland States.

Northern life naturally lends itself to breeding smart, independent kids, with a strong sense of community. It was a main reason why I moved back here.

As U.S. TV continues to spiral downward we can be thankful for two things: We’ll be able to watch the devolution of their modern society from the cozy comfort of our Northern homes, and indeed, without a doubt, the revolution will indeed be televised.

No doubt, NBC’s Dateline will be selling ringside seats.

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